Though he wasn’t one of the superstar names, for nearly 20 years, Rob Fitton, a true privateer and hobbyist racer, was a fixture on the continental circus.
Born Edwin Robin Fitton in West Yorkshire, on April 5, 1928, he went to school at Aireborough, just north of Leeds.
From there it was to the local Bradford University, studying civil engineering. By then he’d acquired his first motorcycle, an aged BSA Sloper, bought when he was 16. It was followed by a Model 18 Norton and the young man started riding in a few trials – until a trip east to Cadwell Park and an introduction to road racing. Now he knew what he wanted to do.
By 1947, he’d acquired a racing Montgomery-JAP, of 1931 vintage, which he debuted at the Easter 1947 Cadwell meeting. He raced on the grass too and started to earn some modest success. A course had been set.
But there was the important business of completing his education to be attended to, necessitating that racing took a back seat, and he graduated in 1950, gaining a BSc. A job in the drawing office at Leeds Corporation duly followed.
Now with a proper income, he could afford a more modern machine, opting for a 350cc BSA Gold Star, which was taken to Ireland and campaigned in the Skerries 100, Munster 100 and Mid-Antrim 150.
He won the 350cc handicap at Munster, but then landed himself in hospital after crashing in the Mid-Antrim. But, undeterred, the Goldie was swapped for a proper racer in the form of a 350cc Mk.VIII KTT Velocette. He was getting serious.
Read more in the June 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!